Guidelines for a successful megaevent

Scira Menoni and Funda Atun (POLIMI)

Mega-event related activities can be organized into six main groups, namely planning, construction of the site, training, collaboration, communication and legacy, in three different time periods; before, during and after the event (Figure 18 and Table 5). Security, Safety and Resilience are the three main notions and are strongly connected with mega-event related activities.

Security issues are more present before the event, during the construction of the event site. Security includes all the measures taken to protect the construction site before and during the event against any kind of attack. Regarding successful security, ın London an ex-military officer mentioned that “you need to find the right balance between making people alert and interested in security, and not alarming them.” Safety means the protection of people and properties from hazards caused by non-malicious incidents. In such events, however, absolute safety is not possible (interview with an officer of fire brigade, June 2016, London). Regarding resilience, one of the officials from Milan said that auto protection is the key for resilience, and it is important to accept that there will be a phase of chaos during the event.

Guidelines for planning of the event

Planning activities involve the definition of organizations and personnel, budget and timing. Choosing the right people according to skill requirements and keeping key people on major projects throughout the entire process is the key for a successful event. Another issue is the budget estimation. Generally, the cost of the mega-events is underestimated and funding overestimated (House of Commons, 2007). Timing is also crucial, and a criterion that is difficult to meet. It is true that the roles/duties of all involved authorities/personnel are defined clearly and publicly. However, as an official from the fire brigade mentioned, being able to improvise is necessary to be quick in decision making for a timely response to an incident (interview with a fire brigade officer, February 2015, Milan).

Guidelines for new constructions

Disaster risk reduction must be a part of all development and infrastructure system investments, to increase the resilience of the systems. There are the other issues, such as the new risk landscape, including terrorism, traffic jams and changing hazard conditions that increase the vulnerability of cities and the multiple interaction patterns of infrastructure systems. The latter occurs between the three layers existing in the city: spatial, organizational (public institutions or private, depending on the owner of the infrastructure system) and social (the users of the system).

The maximum building rights, the negotiating criteria, and any specific requirements and rules should be defined in the plans for the areas of transformation, and they cannot go against the DRR plans. In the areas of transformation, the inclusion of public functions and disaster risk reduction features should always be allowed if the area is located in a disaster risk prone area.

Coordinated actions for development should consider sustainable use of the territory. It is crucial to consider in the plans the integration and enhancement of policies regarding cultural heritage, heritage, rural products and environmental and water resources.

Guidelines for training

A respondent from Milan mentioned that it is possible to solve every problem with the help of technology, which has zero cost in some of the cases; however, the problem is the involvement of humans in every system. Therefore, they conducted at least ten drills with a blind control station to test the communication mechanisms. Through training and test drills, they do not only test the system and learn what to do; they also know each other and build trust between officials from different organizations. Trust is the key to flexibility during collaboration and communication activities.

Guidelines for better collaboration

Indeed, mega-events are multi-organizational activities. Before all else, it is important to support the organization and operation activities with innovative IT tools. All the stakeholders involved with different temporal and spatial scales before, during, and after the event should be represented in the meetings and during the decision-making processes. The stakeholders should be grouped according to their target group and context.

Trust should be built before the event on vertical and horizontal levels between stakeholders. That helps to achieve an understandable, co-produced, shared and useful knowledge, and, most importantly, it helps to achieve flexibility when a decision has to be made rapidly. It is important to be in contact with actors from different practical backgrounds, such as academics, practitioners, and NGOs.

Guidelines for better communication

In the Milan EXPO 2015, the communication plan was established by considering the current plan. There is a communication system between municipality and province. Through the communication system, they deal with ordinary information. For emergencies, they have a communication protocol. The protocol has to be signed and filled in by prefecture and all the other related institutions. It is updated every 1.5 and 3 hours after inserting the information into the common platform. Then, a situation report is prepared according to the collected data.

The state of emergency declaration was via SMS, and the dissemination of warnings was via megaphones. Inside the EXPO area, the organizations have their own systems to warn people. Additionally, there was a connected video and radio communication system inside and outside the EXPO area.

The key message here is that with such big events, the huge amount of data is a challenge. If data arrives casually, it cannot help anyone. The data has to be filtered, as no one has time to search for particular data in the huge amount of data overall.

Guidelines for the legacy achievement

Regarding the legacy, there are several issues, from an increased number of tourists to the introduction of advanced technology in certain areas. Also, the current safety and security mechanisms can be tested by hosting a mega event. Such events are also engines of urban developments and lead to regeneration and urban renewal in deprived areas. The key for the new construction areas is sustainable use of the territory and event site, even after the event. Moreover, the public should know more about the organizations and they can follow them through social media channels, which make it easy to reach them when it is necessary. Besides, in both cases, the volunteer teams are still active in case of necessity.

A well-organized mega-event is helpful for the formation of human capital in the field of design, implementation and management of the event. If the social inclusion strategy is adapted during the implementation phase, the labour market can be adapted and allow access to those from a lower social status. Mega-events also trigger tourism in the medium and long term; the numbers both from London and Milan prove this statement. The main reasons are improved conditions, increased visibility, and increased supply conditions.

The overall key message for a successful mega-event is the “right people, right training and right sources at the right time!”